Lives of Houses

Kevin Jackson at Literary Review:

My favourite essay, Robert Douglas-Fairhurst’s ‘At Home with Tennyson’, is both a bravura work of close reading and a highly sensitive study of the poet’s loyalties, yearnings and fears about homes and homelessness. Tennyson, he demonstrates, was profoundly touched by the idea of home and ‘was equally good at evoking home when it existed only as an idea, as in “The Lotos-Eaters”, where so much of what the speaker broods over – “roam”, “foam”, “honeycomb” – has the word “home” flickering through it like a nagging but elusive memory’. Douglas-Fairhurst is yet another of the essayists here to be attracted by the word ‘nest’: Tennyson produces a ‘voice that is keen to create a nest of words for itself but also appears to be nervously eyeing up the lines of each stanza like a little set of prison bars’. This is criticism that draws quite close to the status of poetry.

more here.